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Title: By the Dark of the Moon
Rating: PG-13
Length: 6,100 words
Genre: Gen season 1 casefic
Warnings: Rough language, angst, boys with issues.
Author's Notes: Thanks to mizface for a really thoughtful beta.
Disclaimer: Sam, Dean, and the concept of Supernatural belong to the CW.
Summary: Sam almost hopes that there is a supernatural explanation for Dean's disappearance.

Sam scanned the collection of cars in the parking lot with a frown. They were mostly student junkers with a scattering of new SUVs and Beamers. No sign of the Impala, but that was no reason to freak out. All of the Boston College students had disappeared during the new moon, and that was still two days away.

Still, it wasn’t like Dean to be this late, not when they were working a job. Sam pulled out his phone and tried his brother’s number; his voicemail picked up. Again. Sam huffed out a breath. He’d wasted twenty minutes searching all the parking lots near Kate O’Shaunessy’s dorm, just in case.

“Dean,” Sam grated, balanced on the edge between irritation and worry, “Where are you, man? It’s past five. You were supposed to pick me up from the library four hours ago. I checked in with the missing girl’s roommate – and seriously, going by Agent Mulder? Not funny, even if she was dumb as a box of rocks. She said you came by around ten this morning, so …”

Sam pulled a map out of his backpack, unfolded it on the hood of a nearby car, and traced his route.

“Anyway, I’m on foot in Chestnut Hill. I’ll head up towards that club we found on her credit card statement, see what I can find. Call me when you get this, you jerk.”

Sam carefully re-folded his map, tucked it into his backpack, and slipped his cell phone in his pocket. He started walking up the street at a steady, ground-eating pace he could keep up for hours. Dean was probably just holed up with some coed. It wouldn’t be the first time he’d left Sam waiting around while he got laid.

The neighborhood was quiet in the weak, late afternoon sunlight, cracked sidewalks and little single family homes with a few feet of worn, muddy grass between them.

Sam checked his phone again. It was charged, and he was getting a strong signal. He pulled up the contacts list. Right above ‘Dean’ was ‘Dad’. He shoved it back in his pocket again. Yeah, that was a joke. After all the messages they’d left on Dad’s phone over the past few months, they’d gotten no response except that one text message sending them to Rockford Asylum. And off they went. It’s always been like that. Dad said jump, Dean didn’t even ask how high; just hurled himself off the fucking cliff, over and over, until he was bruised and bloody.

Sam stopped in the middle of the street, arrested by the memory of the purple contusions on Dean’s chest and back. The ones Sam had inflicted a few days ago by shooting his brother in the chest with a load of rock salt. A car honked, startling him out of his memories. Sam stepped back onto the sidewalk, the image leading him into an even more unsettling scenario.

What if … what if Dean had gotten another text message from Dad? Or even a phone call, one that said, 'Dean, meet me in Duluth. Just you, Sam doesn’t need to be involved.' Dad would totally do that. He’d abandoned them dozens of times over the years, in churches and salvage yards, motels and condemned houses, with a few hundred bucks and a vague promise to call in a week or two. And once Sam hit puberty, Dad started taking Dean with him on those hunting trips sometimes, leaving Sam behind. But Dean wouldn’t just take off. Especially not now, when things were so fucked up. Would he?

Sam tasted doubt on the back of his tongue, like the reek of burning hair. A month ago he would have been sure. But now? Dean had taken care of those nasty bruises himself, in the motel bathroom. He wouldn’t even let Sam take a look at them. And ever since Sam’s screw-up at the asylum, he kept catching Dean watching him, like he wasn’t sure if a psychic little brother who managed to get possessed and shoot him was a partner, or a liability.

Christ. What if Dean did it, ditched him without even a fucking phone call?

The possibility stopped him cold. This morning Sam had been part of a seasoned team of hunters in the middle of a case. Without Dean, what was he? Some, some homeless guy stranded in a strange city with a laptop, the clothes on his back, a switchblade in his pocket, and $47 in a money clip. No credit cards or ID because, ‘Nothing makes the local yokels take notice like mismatched IDs, Sammy.’

Sam hunched his shoulders against the cold as the sun slowly sank beneath the rooftops. The wind cut right through his hoodie. The first week of April might technically count as spring in Boston, but it sure didn’t feel like it. Sam didn’t even have his coat. It was in the car.

Sam checked his cell phone one more time, and scrolled through his contacts. If Dean had really abandoned him here, he was gonna need some help. Zach. Zach would wire him some money, if he needed it. Enough to hop a bus to … to where?

Palo Alto, Sam decided. Sam had gone to school in sixteen states, but Palo Alto was the only place he’d ever lived long enough to put down roots. It was warm there, and Sam had plenty of friends who would let him crash on their couch until he got a job. Maybe he could even register for classes next quarter.

Sam let himself imagine it. Back at Stanford, with a real permanent address. Using lighter fluid to burn charcoal briquettes, instead of corpses. Wearing a suit for an honest-to-God interview, instead of to impersonate a federal agent. Jess waiting for him at home-

And that was what woke him up from the stupid fucking pipe dream. It had taken Jess dying to prove to Sam that, until they found what killed Mom, if Winchesters didn’t go looking for evil, it would come looking for them. Dean knew that. He knew it in his bones. And that’s why his brother would never take off without a word.

Sam ran a hand through his hair and started walking faster as he tried to come up with a plan. If Dean was this late, he must be in trouble. And it was up to Sam to find him.

Sam had broken into a jog, and he almost stepped right over the white chalk mark on the pavement without noticing it. Sam turned around, breathing deep and evenly, and inspected the symbol chalked on the sidewalk in front of a brick townhouse. If it had been a little lighter out, the contrast of white against the darker pavement probably wouldn’t have caught his eye at all. It looked like random graffiti – unless you could read Sumerian. The symbol meant ‘knowledge.’ It was part of a Sumerian protection ward, one of the standard ones that Dean had probably drawn a thousand times. Sam felt a sudden conviction that he would find what he was looking for here.

Sam walked up the steps to the white-painted door and listened for a moment. There was a classical piano piece playing inside. Sam thought it was one that Jess’ mom had liked to listen to. Brushing the thought away, he knocked hard on the townhouse door. The music stopped. Sam waited about thirty seconds until a thin, older black man with close cropped grey hair opened the door. He was wearing a golden sweater-vest and bifocals, and looked very much the college professor.

“Can I help you?” prompted the man.

Sam realized he had no idea what cover to use. He wasn’t dressed to play any role, and didn’t have any fake IDs. “Ah – yes. I hope so, sir. I happened to notice the cuneiform on your sidewalk. That is Sumerian for knowledge, isn’t it?”

“The sú? That’s right.” The professor smiled. “Are you a student of ancient languages? On a quest for knowledge, perhaps?”

“In a way,” Sam hedged. “Actually, I’m looking for my brother.”

“Are you now?” The streetlights switched on and in the sudden light, the man’s eyes glittered, dark and malicious.

“Christo,” Sam said instinctively, reminded of the demon that had tried to kill a plane full of people.

The old man’s eyes stayed a human brown as he chuckled. “I’m not possessed, son. Now, if you can make it past my wards uninvited, I might be able to help.”

He turned his back and walked away into the house, leaving the door open in a silent invitation.

Sam pulled out his phone and left one more voice mail for Dean with a description and general location of the house, unsure of the street address, then stepped inside. There was an electric tingle as he entered; a sign of active spell work that Sam had felt a few times before at Uncle Bobby’s. Maybe, if this didn’t pan out, he could try to dig up Bobby’s number? Dean hadn’t mentioned Bobby since fetching Sam from Stanford. Sam hadn’t asked. It wasn’t like this job came with retirement benefits. He didn’t particularly want to know how many of the handful of people that Sam cared about had died while he got his three-year taste of real life.

When Sam turned to close and lock the door behind him, he saw that the doorframe was covered in an intricate lattice of protective symbols and wards from a dozen different cultures. Some Sam didn’t even recognize, but he could tell they weren’t placed randomly. Safety, secrecy, concealment from enemies -every symbol built on the one before, reinforced its meaning, like notes building to a powerful chord. Sam snapped a few pictures before putting his phone away. Maybe once Dean was safe, the old man would show him how to set up a ward like that? It probably wouldn’t work in a motel, needed the full threshold of a long-established home, but maybe someday …

Sam followed the narrow carpeted hallway past a steep staircase. The house smelled of pungent incense – Sam recognized frankincense, but there was another, darker undertone to the scent that he couldn’t place. It was giving him a bit of a headache. A doorway at the end of the hall opened into a kitchen with a full-size refrigerator.

“In here,” a voice called from the door to Sam’s right.

Sam pushed his way through a beaded curtain and walked into an old-fashioned sitting room. The far wall was floor to ceiling glassed-in bookshelves. There wasn’t a modern paperback in sight. The shelves held tomes and grimoires, scrolls and pieces of parchment. Sam’s fingers itched to touch them. The other walls were hand-painted maps. The USA was painted on the left wall, Boston on the right, and when Sam peered back at the wall he’d emerged from, there was a map of the entire world. Each map was scattered with dots of color, and Sam wondered what they meant.

The old man was seated in a wingback chair facing him. He nodded to another big, over-stuffed armchair across a small table from him.

“Have a seat,” he urged. Sam settled on the edge of the chair. This close up, he spotted a thick, ridged burn scar on the man’s hand. “Now, is your brother a hunter, like yourself?”

Sam gave a nervous half-shrug. The man chuckled at the look on his face. “A scholar might recognize the sú , but I doubt he’d greet me with the Christ’s name in Latin. What should I call you?” The question put Sam more at ease. It was what passed for politeness between hunters, not asking someone their name when they might be on the run.

“I’m Sam. And you?”

“You may call me Yashar,” the man said, inclining his head with a grave, old-world courtesy. “Tea?” he asked, picking up a delicate porcelain teapot. He poured some into a waiting mug, releasing a strong smell of mint into the air.

Sam’s smile was growing thin. “Look, Yashar, I’d love to chat. The wards on your threshold are the strongest I’ve ever seen, and your collection looks amazing. But I really need to find my brother. You said you might be able to help?”

“Almost certainly. Knowledge is my business.” He looked Sam up and down, scrutinizing him while Sam consciously kept his body language open and attentive. “You don’t look like a man of means, but I try not to put too much stock in appearances. Will you be able to afford my fee?”

“Ah – probably not up-front,” Sam said nervously.

“Hmm,” Yashar said thoughtfully. “Well, for a hunter like yourself, I’d be willing to make an exception. I’ll give you your brother’s current location, and in return you can just – repay me by some means to be determined later.” He gave Sam a smile that didn’t reach his eyes and held out his hand for Sam to shake.

Sam reached out, and then hesitated. John Winchester’s son, lulled by the familiarity of being in a hunter’s home and worried about his brother, might have agreed. But the Stanford student who’d aced a seminar in Contract Law knew better.

“I think I’d prefer to settle the terms now,” Sam said, sitting back in his seat.

Irritation flickered across Yashar’s face, but was quickly displaced by an accommodating smile. “I thought you were in a hurry,” he said, “but obviously not. What did you have in mind?”

“Well, if knowledge is your business, my brother and I have been on some pretty unique hunts. How about I give you a short description of five cases, and if one sounds interesting to you, I’ll give you all the details in return for my brother’s location.”

Yashar looked intrigued. “Deal,” he said, and they shook on it. Yashar left the room and returned with a big leather-bound journal and a fountain pen.

Sam laid out quick synopses of a few recent jobs for Yashar to choose from. Bloody Mary crawling out of mirrors. A shapeshifter stealing both the appearance and memories of its victims. A poltergeist and a ghost battling for control of a house. A demon crashing planes. And finally, against his better judgment, a ghost inciting insanity in its victims.

Yashar picked the Roosevelt Asylum case. Of course he did. Because if Winchesters didn’t have bad luck, they’d have no luck at all.

At first Sam tried to talk him quickly through the case, but Yashar kept making him stop to go back and fill in the details. It was like one of Dad’s memory exercises. Exactly what did he tell the psychologist about his brother? After all those years of playing normal for teachers and social workers, running scared from CPS, it was a relief to finally tell someone a little about how fucked up his life truly was. Did Sam sense the presence of the ghosts before the temperature dropped? A wrong blue ache in the back of his mind. What led Sam to suspect that the ghosts of the patients were harmless? Sad, slow things drenched in their own blood.

“Look,” Sam said frantically, “this is taking forever, and I need to find my brother now.”

Yashar shrugged and sipped his tea. “I offered to give you the information on your brother’s location right away, and let you pay me back later. You insisted on paying first. Have you changed your mind?” he asked.

Sam’s foot tapped the floor. “No,” he said. “Let’s just get this over with.”

What did it feel like when the ghost touched him? A jagged-cold burn like snatching a knife, bare-handed, out of a Minnesota snow bank. Did he know he’d been affected? Feeling wild, and powerful, and free. Why did he try to shoot his brother with the shotgun? Still fucking ordering him around, after all these years, after he pulled Sam away and left Jess to burn. In that moment, did Sam really want his brother dead?

Sam pulled the trigger. When the hammer clicked down on an empty chamber, he choked on a surge of red.

Sam scrubbed at his mouth with the back of his hand. “Then he knocked me out, and when I came to, Ellicott’s remains were on fire, and I was back to normal,” Sam reported dully. “We checked the rest of the Asylum, and the EMF was gone, all of it. I don’t know if Ellicott had trapped the other ghosts there, or if they’d stayed to try and warn people about him, but they haven’t appeared since.”

Yashar nodded, jotting notes in his journal.

“So -” Sam began.

Yashar held up one long, boney finger in a demand for silence, and kept writing. Sam craned his neck. Was that Arabic Yashar was writing in? Or maybe some kind of weird short-hand?

Yashar dug the pen tip into the paper and looked up with a pleased smile. “There. You’ve met your obligations, and now I’ll meet mine. Do you have anything of your brother’s?”

Fuck. The laptop was Sam’s. He’d done laundry two nights ago, while Dean was holed up in the motel bathroom, not even letting Sam see the damage he’d done, so Sam was wearing all his own shirts. He barely had anything on him that was his, let alone Dean’s. Unless…

“Well, how about Dean’s brother?” Sam asked, spreading his arms out wide and narrowly missing the teapot.

“Hmmm. I suppose that might work. Bloodlines wouldn’t, in themselves, be enough, but with ties of affection as well … perhaps.” Yashar leaned forward and plucked a hair from Sam’s head.

“Ow,” Sam protested.

Yashar popped the hair in his mouth. “Interesting,” he muttered. “Is that … hmmm.” He swallowed, and Sam made a face at the sight of Yashar actually eating his hair. “Yes, a few drops of your blood should suffice.”

Sam pulled out his switchblade and thumbed it open. “Where?” he asked, resting the point of the blade against the tip of his left little finger, where a cut wouldn’t affect his ability to hunt.

“Impatient,” Yashar commented. “Just a moment, I’ll need a rod.” He levered himself up out of his armchair and walked to an umbrella stand in the corner of the room. Yashar put aside two umbrellas and a broom before pulling out a slim Y-shaped branch, perfect for dowsing.

“Three drops of blood on the rod, please,” Yashar said, extending the pointed end of the rod towards Sam.

Sam pricked the tip of his finger, put the knife away, and pressed the flesh of his finger until blood welled to the surface. Holding his hand over the branch as he dripped three careful drops of his blood along its length, he pictured his brother as he’d seen him that morning, the cheapness of his black suit camouflaged by a confident smirk, just a little stiff from his injuries. Sam closed his hand and smeared the blood into the bark.

“Before we do this, I have to ask,” Yashar said. “After the hunt you described, are you sure that your brother wants to be found?”

Doubts howled through Sam’s mind. He slammed the door and left them whimpering outside. “I’m sure,” he insisted, staring Yashar down. Divination spells were notoriously susceptible to uncertainty in the caster.

Yashar’s lips twitched into a smile. “Well then, we’ll work with the local map.” He moved to the wall with the map of Boston, stretched the dowsing rod out towards the map, and began to chant.

The spell was in a language hadn’t heard before, liquid syllables that hurt Sam’s ears. He stood a few feet behind, watching as Yashar swayed and danced along the map, moving from one district to another. Find Dean, Sam thought. Find Dean, he pushed towards the rod. Find Dean. If he had to be some kind of psychic freak, at least he could get some use out of it. The branch visibly quivered as Yashar moved it towards the south. Sam tried to see exactly where it was pointed, but Yashar was standing in the way.

“Ah,” Yashar said, amused. “There. Is your brother by any chance a handsome young man?”

Handsome? Sam tried to match the description with Dean’s face. Dean was … Dean. He was Sam’s universal constant, to which all other people were compared. Sam was taller than Dean, a worse shot, and more fluent in Latin. Jess was a better cook, snored less, and was nowhere near as bossy. Sam hadn’t escaped from his brother’s influence when he left for Stanford, any more than free-falling out of a plane made you immune to gravity. Was Dean handsome? The question didn’t even make sense. “Uh … I guess. I mean, all the girls seem to think so.”

“Well, he’s at Lost Pond, and there’s a water spirit residing there with a fondness for attractive young men. Back in her heyday she ripped them apart, but she’s been much tamed by peat bogs and modern landscaping. Now she just keeps them to play with.” Yashar sounded almost disappointed.

Sam gently moved the old man aside so he could see. There was a speck of blood on a blue splotch way down near the floor. Had they really missed the fact that there was a place called ‘Lost Pond’ in the neighborhood? Sheesh. Sam had been looking at maps of south Boston all day. The pond was just south-west of the Chestnut Hill neighborhood he was in now, less than a mile away in a green area that must be a park.

“Would you like some advice on how to deal with her?” Yashar’s voice was eager.

“No thanks, I’ve got it,” Sam answered distractedly as he thought. Water spirits were one of the supernatural monsters often associated with human disappearances, and Sam had read that section of Dad’s journal twice last night. The pond was in a park, so there should be plenty of trees. Willow would work for this, or maybe a black gum tree. “Do you have a lighter I could borrow?” Sam asked.

No answer. When Sam turned to look at Yashar, he was staring as if Sam had just asked for a kidney. “No,” Yashar said curtly.

Oooookay. Hello, crazy. Just once, Sam would like to meet a hunter who wasn’t half-way around the bed. But Sam still offered his hand. Dad had managed to alienate just about every hunter he’d ever worked with, too obsessed for the niceties. Sam didn’t want to follow in his footsteps. “Well, thank you for the help, Yashar.”

Yashar shook his hand firmly. “It was a pleasure meeting you, Sam. Perhaps we’ll have dealings again,” he said. Sam was too focused on his brother to wonder why Yashar had the satisfied look of a cat licking cream from its whiskers.

“Yeah, I’ll swing by later with my brother, so he can thank you personally.” Then Sam was out of the house and jogging down the hill, breath white under the streetlights. The tattoo-covered clerk in the brightly-lit convenience store he stopped at eyed Sam warily as he bought a lighter. Sam was pretty sure the guy had a gun on him, under the counter. After that growth spurt when he was sixteen, Sam had started slumping down, hunching his shoulders, bending his knees; little tricks so he wouldn’t intimidate people, wouldn’t stand out. Six months back on the road with his brother, and he’d apparently lost the knack.

Sam passed a mall as he got closer to the pond, its parking lot surprisingly quiet and empty. Sam checked his watch and discovered it was almost midnight. He must’ve lost track of the time somehow, at Yashar’s place. He climbed a wall to cut through a graveyard. He wondered how many people had run through a graveyard at night. Sam had enough experience he could add it to his resume. But this was his job now, the only one he’d have until the thing that killed Jess was dead. He’d better get used to it.

It had been stupid of Dean to go off on a hunt without him, but Sam could see where his brother was coming from. It wasn’t like Sam had been all that helpful lately. What was he doing, wandering around without a credit card or a decent weapon? It was like, when Dean showed up at Stanford, he just fell back into being Dean’s kid brother. Today proved that Dean needed a real partner, someone who could stand on their own two feet and watch his back. Sam was going to have to step up, make his own IDs, and do his fair share of hustling for money. Dean shouldn’t have to handle it all by himself. Sam Winchester, today you are a man, he thought sourly as he hurdled an open grave and reached the west wall of the graveyard.

Then he was blundering his way through the woods in the dark, not even able to navigate by the stars because the city was all around this wild little patch of nature, its light pollution dimming the night sky. Sam suddenly craved the open road, far away from everything and everyone. He wondered if the water spirit felt as hemmed in by the city as he did.

Sam’s eyes adjusted to the near-darkness, the city’s glow reflecting dull from the low clouds. Sam scraped his elbow on a black gum tree just as the ground started to feel soggy under his feet. He stopped to hack off a few long, flexible twigs and wove them into a circle. A handful of dry leaves from the pile at the bottom of the tree, the lighter he’d bought at the store, and he was ready for the hunt.

Sam walked to the edge of the pond. The peat mat shook with his every step, and water lapped onto his boots. He grimaced as the cold water immediately soaked though his socks. Sam took a breath to start the incantation summoning the spirit, but fog was already coalescing on the water in front of him. It grew thicker and then suddenly dispersed, revealing a pale naked woman with dark wet, waist-length hair draped over her full breasts.

She clapped her hands, and everything jiggled enticingly. “Brothers!” the spirit exclaimed in a high, breathy voice. “I’ve always wanted a matched set!”

“We don’t really match,” Sam muttered, taking a step forwards as the spirit drifted towards him. She was beautiful, skin glowing in the moonlight, but there was no moon tonight. Sam bit his lip. The pain, the taste of iron, of the blood that he shared with Dean, helped him remember the plan he’d come up with on the run over.

“Dean, can you hear me? Grab onto this!” Sam yelled, throwing the circle of twigs as far as he could towards the center of the pond with a flick of his wrist, like a Frisbee.

The spirit moved with a blur of speed and snatched up the circle before it could hit the water. She peered at it, puzzled. Water spirits didn’t really have much going on upstairs.

Sam flicked his lighter and lit the leaves on fire, muttering a few words of his best attempt at Gaelic. The twigs burst into an intense blue flame. The spirit screamed as the fire licked over her skin, shrill as a rabbit and loud enough to send Sam to his knees. When he looked up, she was gone. According to legend a spirit banished that way couldn’t return to the mortal realm for a hundred years.

Sam let himself bask for a second. One more monster down, and this one was all him. There was an eruption of water and Dean surfaced, gasping for breath.

Then Sam was hauling his brother out of the pond, one arm around Dean’s waist as he half-dragged him through the forest. Dean was drenched, head to toe. Sam was soaked from the knees down, and his right side was wet where his brother was leaning against him. Dean kept coughing, and Sam worried vaguely about pneumonia. The night air that had felt cold before was bitter now, and Sam couldn’t stop shivering. Dean’s arm was slung around his shoulder; his hand felt like ice where it rested against Sam’s neck. They needed to get warm and dry. Luckily, Dean never ever forgot where he parked his car.

Once they made it to the Impala, in a lot on the west side of the park, Sam peeled Dean out of his wet clothes, toweled him dry, and got him curled up in the back seat under some blankets. Dean grouched at Sam until he stripped down, too, and settled into the passenger seat with the engine purring and the heater turned up high. He shoved their wet clothes into the driver’s side foot well and threw on some sweatpants and a dry hoodie. As the car gradually warmed up a stink of rotting vegetation from the pond water filled the air.

“I could drive us to a motel,” Sam offered, tilting the rearview mirror to keep an eye on the pile of blankets with his brother inside.

“ ‘M cold, not dead,” was Dean’s muffled response, followed by a coughing fit.

“Speaking of which,” Sam said when the coughing stopped, letting some of his frustration and worry bleed into his voice, “why the hell did you go hunting that water spirit on your own?”

“Oh,” Dean yawned, “When the roommate mentioned ‘Lost Pond’, it seemed like a long shot. I mean, one guy and two girls disappeared, and water spirits go for one or the other, right? But it’s the 21st century, who knows what kinky shit modern water spirits could be into, and I had some time to kill, so I thought I’d check it out before I picked you up.”

“And you couldn’t make a phone call to let me know?”

There was a rustle from the backseat as Dean shrugged. “Didn’t occur to me. Guess I’m still used to hunting alone.” Yeah, right, Sam thought. “Hey, could you check and make sure my phone’s still in my pocket?” Dean asked.

Sam let his brother get away with changing the subject. He spent a minute contorting himself to paw through the clothing he’d stuffed in the other footwell, then sat up, grabbed his own phone off the dash, and hit Dean’s speed-dial. “No sign of it,” he said when the car’s silence was undisturbed by a ‘Barbie Girl’ ring-tone. Dean had the sense of humor of a 12-year-old. “Phone’s probably at the bottom of the pond.”

“Crap,” Dean said, struggling out of the blankets, “I need to get a new phone and hook my old number up to it. Dad might call.”

Sam felt a twinge of bitterness as he turned, leaned into the back and managed to pin Dean down with one hand, which was proof enough they shouldn’t be going anywhere for a while. “Dude, it’s past midnight. We’ll get you a new phone in the morning.”

Dean settled down with a muttered, “Yeah, okay.”

Sam tucked the blanket in where a sliver of Dean’s shoulder was showing. “But seriously, Dean, you should have called. I was freaking out when you didn’t show up. How am I supposed to back you up when you take off on leads without giving me a heads-up?”

“Well, I’ll be sure to call and let you know if I’ll be home late, honey, so you don’t worry.” Dean mocked, patting Sam’s cheek.

Sam swatted his brother’s hand away and settled back into his seat, gritting his teeth. Here he was trying to bring up a real issue, something about the job, and Dean wasn’t taking it seriously. Wasn’t taking him seriously.

“So, how did you find me, anyway?” Dean’s voice was casual, but something made Sam think his brother wasn’t sure he’d like the answer.

“Oh, I ran into this hunter, Yashar, and he worked a divination spell.” Sam told Dean about Yashar, his wards, and the trade he’d made for information on Dean’s location.

“Sam!” Dean interrupted.

When Sam glanced in the mirror, Dean was staring at him. “What?”

“None of that struck you as a little hinky?” Dean said incredulously.

“Well, yeah, the old guy’s nuts, but then most hunters are …”

“I swear, you haven’t got the sense God gave little green apples,” Dean said, shaking his head.

“Me? Oh, that’s rich,” Sam protested. “Sure, Yashar might not be the most reliable source, but we’ve worked with psychics before, shaman, whatever it took to get the job done. How else was I meant to rescue you from that water spirit after you went waltzing up to her pond and got snatched like a civilian,” Sam said, warming up to the argument.

Dean was sitting up now with the blanket clutched around him, glaring at him through the rear-view mirror. “Yeah, but Sammy, did you see her? Totally worth it. You’re the one who was having tea with the creepy old witch dude!”

“He wasn’t -”

“Oh, he was,” Dean said in his best ‘I’m older, I’m right, and you know it’ voice. “He so was. And I can prove it. What were the majors of the three college students who disappeared?”

Sam took a deep breath, trying to calm down so he could think. “Umm, Melvin’s was comparative religions,” he remembered. The kid’s room had all kinds of interesting icons and sketches in his room. Dean nodded. “Grace was a history major,” and at Dean’s squint he modified that to, “Ancient history. And Kate was classical studies, with a minor in ancient languages.” ‘Are you a student of ancient languages?’ Yashar had asked him. “Oh … fuck!”

Apparently satisfied that Sam had figured it out, Dean waved a hand dismissively and lay back down. “Aww, don’t feel too bad, Sammy. A monster disguised as a college professor, that’s like your kryptonite or something.”

Finding out that he’d been an idiot that let the target of their hunt slip right through his fingers didn’t make Sam any less angry – just the opposite. And Dean rubbing his nose in it was seriously pissing him off. The feeling was too strong, too much like how he’d felt while dry-firing a gun at his brother’s face. Sam swallowed down the furious words that wanted to spill out of his mouth.

“We’ll hunt him down first thing in the morning,” Dean was saying.

Sam, remembering Yashar’s wards, had his doubts.

Forty-eight hours later they’d done a street-by-street search of the entire Chestnut Hill neighborhood, with no sign of the white-doored brick townhouse. The new moon rose and set while they looked, and everything seemed quiet, normal. Finally they agreed that, if Yashar was going to take someone this new moon, he’d already have done it. Dragging with exhaustion, they checked into a motel and got some sleep.

When they woke up late the next day they checked with the police. The detective working the case said there’d been no new disappearances reported. They spent one more day on searching the area with no results, and then Dad called to send them on a hunt in Burkitsville, Indiana. Dean didn’t even look up from the paper where he’d scribbled down Dad’s notes to listen, when Sam suggested that they finish up the hunt in Boston first, find Yashar, and see if any of those missing college students were still breathing.

The Yashar hunt went on the back-burner. In between jobs Sam would pull up the photos he’d taken of the man’s wards and try to correlate strings of missing persons reports with the new moon. He never found anything conclusive enough to re-start the hunt, and as the months went by he let it slide.

A year later, Sam had stopped hunting for monsters and was desperately searching for a way to save his brother. He was hemmed in by Dean and Bobby’s restrictions. No deals, no black magic, no blood rituals, no left-hand path, nothing with implications they didn’t understand. It was then that Sam remembered a quiet man with a huge library and none of Bobby’s moral qualms. A man who might be willing to trade for information.

Maybe this time he’d have more luck finding Yashar. It was worth a try.

Comments

( 18 comments — Leave a comment )
borgmama1of5
Nov. 23rd, 2010 11:33 pm (UTC)
Excellent casefic, and great use of the Asylum episode. Your description of Sam's feelings seemed pretty authentic.

Are you planning on writing another story with Sam and Yashar?
keerawa
Nov. 24th, 2010 06:29 pm (UTC)
Thank you borgmama1of5! Canon never did address all the fall-out from that episode. I'm glad Sam came across as in-character. He's a mess here, feeling trapped by Dean and by this life, but not sure what to do without him.

'Planning' is too strong a word. Let's say I'm 'hoping' that the Muses will play nice so I can write a sequel.
debbiel66
Nov. 24th, 2010 01:36 am (UTC)
Really enjoyed this - loved the first season setting and the case you developed. Thank you!
keerawa
Nov. 24th, 2010 06:30 pm (UTC)
Thanks for letting me know you enjoyed it, debbie!
counteragent
Nov. 24th, 2010 02:00 am (UTC)
Very cool. Great sense of atmosphere and Sam was incredibly in character---very smart (the deal for information as he had nothing else, defeating the water sprite with almost nothing) but also a bit stupid (not realizing Yashar was their villain) when he gets confident or is worried about Dean.
keerawa
Nov. 24th, 2010 06:30 pm (UTC)
Sam's a walking contradiction that way. And he's got this huge blind spot when it comes to his brother.
counteragent
Nov. 24th, 2010 02:03 am (UTC)
Ps I _really_ loved how Sam realizes that with dean he's part of something important, and without him...he's a sketchy homeless dude. That dichotomy of hunting is something I'm always happy to see explored.
keerawa
Nov. 24th, 2010 06:31 pm (UTC)
That's one of my favorite moments from this fic, thanks counteragent!
(Deleted comment)
keerawa
Nov. 24th, 2010 06:32 pm (UTC)
*salutes*
mizface
Nov. 24th, 2010 07:17 pm (UTC)
So, you already know how much i liked the first draft this, but I had to comment to tell you how much I love the finished fic.

Really, really interesting insight into S1 Sam, and I think you nailed his character voice and how he'd be feeling so well. Some bits I especially loved:

He didn’t particularly want to know how many of the handful of people that Sam cared about had died while he got his three-year taste of real life.

Gorgeous and painful.

And I really love all the unspoken answers to Yashar's questions. The way they build the emotion for that last insight about sam pulling the trigger - brilliant.

After that growth spurt when he was sixteen, Sam had started slumping down, hunching his shoulders, bending his knees; little tricks so he wouldn’t intimidate people, wouldn’t stand out. Six months back on the road with his brother, and he’d apparently lost the knack.

I thought this was really interesting, how Sam tried to blend in for his "normal" life, but didn't when he was hunting. Even though that makes him easier to identify.

The water spirit scene is very nice - love how Sam got rid of her, and his moment of basking.

And the argument at th eend felt very real, very in character.

In (not so) short, awesome story!




keerawa
Nov. 24th, 2010 09:02 pm (UTC)
Thanks so much for the beta, mizface, you really helkped me get this fic to the next level. I particularly like those little flashbacks to asylum. The idea that Sam's furious at his brother for saving him but not even trying to save Jess, that knocked me back. He knows it doesn't make sense, he'd never say it, but God, does he feel it.

I think Sam, as a hunter, is trying to re-learn how to be dangerous, and so looking harmless has fallen along the wayside. And I'm glad the water spirit hunt worked for you! This slimmed down version is far superior to the original, but I think you're right, it needed something there. Thanks!
embroiderama
Nov. 24th, 2010 07:54 pm (UTC)
Sam tasted doubt on the back of his tongue, like the reek of burning hair.

Oh, ouch! The details in this story are so sharp, really brought me back to S1 Sam.
keerawa
Nov. 24th, 2010 09:03 pm (UTC)
Thank you, embroiderama! Such a contrast between Sam now and then, I'm glad to have reminded you.
(Deleted comment)
keerawa
Dec. 2nd, 2010 02:33 pm (UTC)
Thanks, samidha! Sam's changed quite a bit, over the years. Physically, yes, obviously. Our boy's grown up! But emotionally, too.
gypsy_atavari
May. 9th, 2011 03:28 am (UTC)
This is awesome! :-)
keerawa
May. 9th, 2011 04:18 am (UTC)
Why thank you! I appreciate the commment!
randomstasis
Oct. 8th, 2011 07:03 pm (UTC)
Love casefics like ice cream, truly I do. And a casefic that makes such a powerful character sketch on top of that is like a hot fudge sundae. Sam is so uncertain here, trying to figure out who to be, and I think that confuses him more than he knows- witness his malleability with Yashar and his surprise at the clerk's reaction, but.. He's a natural chameleon, so already he's become what he has to be for now. His mid-case epiphany and determination to step up and be a hunter again has already happened, except on the conscious level. Now all he needs is big brother to recognize how real the change is, even if it's "just" Sam's skill at adaptation. It's not really the weakness they think it is sometimes-it's a different weakness entirely. heh heh That underlying need for approval, or just to fit in is part of what makes him so dangerous as well as vulnerable.

You really got his unWinchersterish moral ambiguity running all through this, though, and bursting out at the end.

Hm, you seem to have inspired far too many thinky thoughts on Sam's character !
keerawa
Oct. 8th, 2011 07:32 pm (UTC)
Thanks so much, randomstasis! Identity is one of my favorite themes, and that's what this story is all about.

Sam's skill at adaptation. It's not really the weakness they think it is sometimes-it's a different weakness entirely. I think that's ... profoundly true.

And I'm glad that Sam's frustration with Dean and Bobby's moral sense came through at the end.
( 18 comments — Leave a comment )